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CRIMINAL JUSTICE REPORT
WRITING
THE HOW AND WHY
Part 8
Quoting Exact Words in a
Police Report
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REPORT
WRITING
THE HOW AND WHY
Part 8
Quoting Exact Words in a
Police Report
Criminal justice reports often record word-for-
word what a witness or suspect said.
Getting these statements right is an important
skill—and one that’s easy to learn.
Here are some important guidelines:
 Use exact words even if you’ll have to
write down some objectionable
language (obscenities, sexism, slang,
bad grammar)
 Use the correct punctuation
 Avoid unnecessary repetition
Getting the words exactly right matters
because…
 a suspect’s or witness’s words can help
build the case for a conviction
 investigators can study a suspect’s
speech patterns and word choices for
clues, especially if a suspect has
distinctive verbal habits
Getting the punctuation right matters
because…
 your report will look professional
 you’ll avoid confusion about who said
what
In American punctuation, commas and periods
always go inside (before) quotation marks:
“I never laid a hand on my daughter,” Roker told
me. CORRECT
“I never laid a hand on my daughter”, Roker told
me. INCORRECT
Here are two more examples:
 Hassan told me, “I can prove I was at
work that evening.” CORRECT
 Hassan told me, “I can prove I was at
work that evening”. INCORRECT
Remember: In the U.S., commas and periods
always go inside (before) quotation marks.
There are no exceptions.
Canada and the United Kingdom use a different
system. When you’re on American soil, use
American punctuation.
When you’re not writing a person’s exact words,
omit the quotation marks.
Donna Johnson said that Ted Carver had been
stalking her daughter. CORRECT (not Donna’s
exact words)
Donna Johnson said, “Ted Carver has been
stalking my daughter.” CORRECT (Donna’s exact
words)
Avoid unnecessary repetition when you’re
recording a person’s exact words.
Here’s an example of unnecessary repetition:
I asked Guttmann what happened. He said he and Knapp
had argued about some tools that Knapp had borrowed. I
asked Gutmann what happened next. He said Knapp
punched him in the face. I asked Gutmann what he did in
response. He said he hit Knapp on the side of the head. I
asked Guttmann if he called the police. He said yes, he
called 911.
Here’s the conversation again, without the
repetition:
I asked Guttmann what happened.
He said he and Knapp had argued
about some tools that Knapp had
borrowed. Knapp punched him in
the face, and Gutmann hit Knapp
on the side of the head. Guttmann
called 911.
Remembering and accurately recording a
person’s exact words is an important law
enforcement skill.
You can increase your ability to recall exactly
what people say. Everyday life offers many
opportunities to improve your capacity for
concentration and recall: conversations,
meetings, and TV and radio broadcasts are
good examples.
To Learn More:
Criminal Justice Report Writing is available in
softcover ($17.95) from www.Amazon.com and in a
variety of ebook and Apple formats (Kindle, Nook,
SONY etc.) for $11.99 from www.Smashwords.com.
Read a free sample online!
Find FREE report writing
resources online at
www.YourPoliceWrite.com

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Criminal Justice 8: Quoting Exact Words

  • 1. CRIMINAL JUSTICE REPORT WRITING THE HOW AND WHY Part 8 Quoting Exact Words in a Police Report
  • 2. CRIMINAL JUSTICE REPORT WRITING THE HOW AND WHY Part 8 Quoting Exact Words in a Police Report
  • 3. Criminal justice reports often record word-for- word what a witness or suspect said. Getting these statements right is an important skill—and one that’s easy to learn.
  • 4. Here are some important guidelines:  Use exact words even if you’ll have to write down some objectionable language (obscenities, sexism, slang, bad grammar)  Use the correct punctuation  Avoid unnecessary repetition
  • 5. Getting the words exactly right matters because…  a suspect’s or witness’s words can help build the case for a conviction  investigators can study a suspect’s speech patterns and word choices for clues, especially if a suspect has distinctive verbal habits
  • 6. Getting the punctuation right matters because…  your report will look professional  you’ll avoid confusion about who said what
  • 7. In American punctuation, commas and periods always go inside (before) quotation marks: “I never laid a hand on my daughter,” Roker told me. CORRECT “I never laid a hand on my daughter”, Roker told me. INCORRECT
  • 8. Here are two more examples:  Hassan told me, “I can prove I was at work that evening.” CORRECT  Hassan told me, “I can prove I was at work that evening”. INCORRECT
  • 9. Remember: In the U.S., commas and periods always go inside (before) quotation marks. There are no exceptions. Canada and the United Kingdom use a different system. When you’re on American soil, use American punctuation.
  • 10. When you’re not writing a person’s exact words, omit the quotation marks. Donna Johnson said that Ted Carver had been stalking her daughter. CORRECT (not Donna’s exact words) Donna Johnson said, “Ted Carver has been stalking my daughter.” CORRECT (Donna’s exact words)
  • 11. Avoid unnecessary repetition when you’re recording a person’s exact words. Here’s an example of unnecessary repetition: I asked Guttmann what happened. He said he and Knapp had argued about some tools that Knapp had borrowed. I asked Gutmann what happened next. He said Knapp punched him in the face. I asked Gutmann what he did in response. He said he hit Knapp on the side of the head. I asked Guttmann if he called the police. He said yes, he called 911.
  • 12. Here’s the conversation again, without the repetition: I asked Guttmann what happened. He said he and Knapp had argued about some tools that Knapp had borrowed. Knapp punched him in the face, and Gutmann hit Knapp on the side of the head. Guttmann called 911.
  • 13. Remembering and accurately recording a person’s exact words is an important law enforcement skill. You can increase your ability to recall exactly what people say. Everyday life offers many opportunities to improve your capacity for concentration and recall: conversations, meetings, and TV and radio broadcasts are good examples.
  • 14. To Learn More: Criminal Justice Report Writing is available in softcover ($17.95) from www.Amazon.com and in a variety of ebook and Apple formats (Kindle, Nook, SONY etc.) for $11.99 from www.Smashwords.com. Read a free sample online!
  • 15. Find FREE report writing resources online at www.YourPoliceWrite.com